One drive down Lawrenceville Highway, and something very nagging becomes apparent: There are a lot of empty storefronts.
In the shopping center where the new Old Town Hibachi Buffet opened to fanfare in August, there are numerous empty businesses.
Those associated with the property say there are big plans for the site, including a possible pizza place and smoothie shop, as the city of Lilburn moves forward with its plans for an adjacent $10 million municipal complex.
-- What do you think of the empty business spaces? What business would you like to city set of shop in Lilburn? --
Now, however, even Old Town Hibachi Buffet is sitting empty. That's "for the time being," said David Adams, , a broker with property manager NDI Development LLC.
"They were doing great business," Adams said, adding that they have been in limbo for about ten days as some business logistics are hammered out.
Across the street at the 4805 Lawrenceville Highway center, where the International Farmers Market is located, there also are a number of empty businesses.
According to the website for the "Lilburn Center," there are ten vacant spaces. Of the spaces that are occupied, one of those belongs to the Lilburn CID, which is working to help businesses in the area stay and grow.
Patch contacted Chaz Lazarian, an attorney and managing director at Insignia, LLC, which manages the Lilburn Center property. We were never able to reach him to ask specific questions about the site.
However, he did email this short response after we contacted him initially: "I’m not sure what is your definition of 'quite empty' but the center is over 75 percent occupied which is great for this size center."
Most of that 75 percent of space is thanks to a few businesses, mainly the farmers market and the Al-Falah Academy.
There's still a number of vacant spaces, a large parking lot where only half of it is used with any frequency and lease signs gracing the front of windows.
This two shopping centers aren't the only ones with challenges. Down the way at Killian Hill Road near U.S. Highway 29, a concrete barrier has made business difficult for some there.
Wilkes Meat Market had to move because of the lagging business, and are not located on Five Forks Trickum Road under a new name: Tony's Meat Market.
And, on Main Street, city leaders are still trying to figure out what to do with the old Blue Rooster spot. Concerned citizens have reached out to Patch about what appears to be a lack of movement there, and about other business concerns along Main Street.
However, Mayor Johnny Crist -- whose working with the newly formed Lilburn Art Alliance and interested business partners -- to spruce up and move Main Street along said recently that there are a number of simultaneous ideas being considered and meetings being had.
"I think the city has to be aggressive," he said. "Be the first one to move. If we're going to redevelop the city, the city has to take the leadership on it."
In his term as mayor, he added "we're not just going to sit around and say whatever happens, happens."
So, we're asking you -- the citizens of Lilburn -- what do you want to see in the vacant storefronts in the city, especially along Lawrenceville Highway? And, what do you hope for the future of business growth and development in the community?
Let us know in the comment section!